Italy Grain-Import Bill Fell 14% Through April on Volume

Italy’s spending on grain imports fell 14 percent in the first four months of 2012 as the world’s third-biggest wheat buyer purchased less.

Grain imports fell to 1 billion euros ($1.23 billion) from January through to April from 1.17 billion euros a year earlier, the Rome-based Associazione Nazionale Cerealisti, known as Anacer, wrote in an e-mailed statement statement today.

Italy shipped in 7.3 million tons of wheat last year, making the country the third-biggest importer of the grain after Egypt and Algeria, according to figures from the Geneva-based International Trade Centre.

Soft-wheat imports in January through to April fell to 1.54 million tons from 1.61 million tons a year earlier, while the cost of shipments fell to 348.2 million euros from 414.5 million euros, the report showed.

Imports of durum wheat, the hard variety used to make pasta, fell to 378,881 tons from 558,928 tons, while costs declined to 118.7 million euros from 144.2 million euros.

Italians on average eat more wheat than people in other countries of Europe or North America, data from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center shows.

Corn imports declined to 792,823 tons from 1.04 million tons, and the cost fell to 189.3 million euros from 240.8 million euros, according to Anacer. Barley shipments fell to 222,407 tons from 334,192 tons, with a value of 47.7 million euros from 75.9 million euros in January through April 2011.

Including oilseed and protein-crop products, the value of imports fell to 1.44 billion euros from 1.65 billion euros.

Italian cereal-industry exports were worth 1.21 billion euros, compared with 1.46 billion euros, Anacer reported. That shrunk Italy’s grain-trade deficit to 514 million euros from the year-earlier current-account shortfall of 691.7 million euros.

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